Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust Executive Director Farai Mpfunya has challenged Midlands State University (MSU) scholars and academics to research into the Zimbabwean cultural economy value chain to inform the government, the private sector and the creative industry on the existing gaps for the creative and policy development in the country.
He said this while giving a virtual presentation entitled, Zimbabwe’s Creative Economies: Current Realities, the Power of Imagination, and Future Prospects to MSU researchers, students and lecturers on the 27th of May 2021.
Mr Mpfunya made reference to the radical shift in the creation, production, distribution and access of cultural products particularly in the music sub-sector following rapid digitisation leading to information, policy, legal and structural gaps that need academics to research on and proffer sustainable recommendations.
“Music creation in Zimbabwe is following a network and not a pipeline model. We have seen music artists pirating their own content so that they are known, since they are making the majority of their money through live shows, at least before COVID-19 hit.
“They are using USBs of their music as their business cards. These are the new dynamics that require academics to research into and propose solutions to the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe”, he said.
Musicians have mushroomed in the country, particularly in the Zimdancehall genre creating music in backyard studios and distributing their music free of charge on WhatsApp and other digital platforms to generate awareness and crack their way into stardom.
This approach, while promoting instant fame for these musical artists, it has not come without its challenges, noted Mpfunya.
“It is still a murky area in the current digital environment, and there is a need for research into legal protection, skills, the role of the collective management organisations, and capacity development needs of the sector.
“There is a need for universities to engage, interrogate, research, model and document these issues. There is an opportunity for universities to approach institutions such as the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (ZIMURA) and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) and see where they can feed into them”, said Mpfunya.
The workshop revealed the need for MSU to take advantage of the gaps in the sector to create triangulation of the University, private sector and the creative sector in mutually beneficial private-public partnerships.
Creatives have traditionally felt unaccepted by the academia and such engagements help thaw the relations and spur growth in the creative sector.
The lecture was part of the ongoing Public Lecture Series initiated by the MSU’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, themed “New Ways of Knowing, Re-Imagining the Disciplines, and Unpacking Silences” which has been running since the start of the year.
Faculty of Arts and Humanities Executive Dean Dr Terrence Mashingaidze, who was both the convener and host of the virtual public lecture said that the public lecture series was an academic platform to engage and share knowledge and ideas with leaders and experts in various fields of study.
“Since the beginning of the year, the Arts and Humanities Faculty embarked on a Public Lecture Series to have conversations with scholars who are creating new ecologies of knowing and knowledge production. Activists who are at the forefront of re-envisioning and reimagining the economy, society and politics are also highly valued participants in these lecture series,” said Dr Mashingaidze.
“Overall, conversations with these brilliant and enterprising scholars and activists not only help us to push the frontiers of knowledge in new and interesting ways but also help us to be conscientious and collegial inhabitants of this world,” he added.
The public lecture was attended by Zvishavane Campus Director Professor Advice Viriri, Tugwi Mukosi Research Institute Executive Director Professor Jephias Matunhu, Arts and Humanities Faculty Deputy Dean Dr Matunhu, lecturers, researchers and students.
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